Bayshore Shopping Centre's general manager Denis Pelletier compared the kickoff to the mall's expansion with his wedding day, saying he felt as giddy as a groom about Bayshore's future.
The $200-million project will add 160,000 square feet of new retail space to the mall after four years of planning, said Mr. Pelletier.
"It's really exciting to see what was sketches on a pad of paper come to reality, and seeing drawings and seeing how exciting everyone is, how the community is embracing it," he said in an interview with OBJ.
The construction will be carried out by PCL Constructors, as reported by OBJ in April and as confirmed at the groundbreaking.
More than 200 guests attended the event on the third floor of the Bayshore parking lot in a large outdoor tent complete with a DJ booth, white furniture and a red carpet.
The expansion will create 56 new stores, one of which will be a Target, taking over the third storey of Zellers. The store's other two floors will be filled with as-yet unidentified vendors.
The new stores will be making their own announcements in the coming weeks, Mr. Pelletier said, and mall representatives were unable to disclose who else will be moving in after the expansion.
Additional shops will create 400 new full-time permanent jobs on top of the 3,000 existing employees at Bayshore.
Construction began immediately, with bulldozers from OSC Constructors, ULC, a subcontractor of PCL, beginning to demolish the parking lot at the corner of Bayshore Drive and Woodridge Crescent as guests looked on from above. The demolition permit came through that very morning. The entire parking deck guests stood upon will soon be torn down.
A new parking lot will be the mall's first priority, to be outfitted with new LED lighting, more efficient ramping, and a multi-level design similar to that at the Ottawa International Airport, says Mr. Pelletier. Three levels will intersect with the mall, and another two will be interstitial or mid-levels between mall floors. All will be connected to the shopping centre via elevators and stairs.
"It's 40 years old and needs to be rebuilt," said Mr. Pelletier of the current parking structure. "Right now, it's inefficient ... it's old and dated."
His words were somewhat drowned out by the bulldozers that were already beginning to demolish the old concrete.
Another large part of the project will include the expansion and relocation of the food court, where 13 vendors will surround 830 seats in a new eating area next to floor-to-ceiling windows. Two restaurants will eventually move into the space holding the current food court.
The mall itself will undergo a modernization makeover, with stainless steel fixtures instead of the current brass, more neutral wall colours and touch-screen sliding doors at entrances.
The expansion is expected to be completed in 2015. At that time, Bayshore will have about 915,000 square feet of gross leasable floor space across three floors of commercial retail units.
This will be an increase of 31 per cent over the current square footage of 698,500 square feet, according to a planning rationale submitted to the city prepared by Delcan Corp. It was on behalf of Ivanhoé Cambridge, the Montreal-based property management and development firm that co-owns the west-end shopping centre alongside KingSett Capital, a private equity real estate business.
The project will require nearly 1,000 construction workers over the next three-and-a-half years, a large project that Ottawa mayor Jim Watson said demonstrates the capabilities of the Ottawa market.
"Thank you for your confidence in the Ottawa economy," said Mr. Watson at the ceremony.